Copper price back above $10,000 per tonne as DRC bans exports

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has reportedly banned the export of copper and cobalt concentrate, just days after Ivanhoe Mines’ large-scale Kamoa-Kakula project commenced production.

Data provider Fastmarkets said it confirmed with three companies operating copper and cobalt mines in the DRC, who had each received the notice signed by Bernard Bosele Pilipili – the provincial director of Customs and Excise in Katanga.

At present, trucks carrying copper and cobalt concentrate can still pass through the material through DRC’s borders, according to sources close to the matter. The effective date of the order is not yet mentioned.

The unilateral action by the DRC government has helped the copper price exceed $10,000 per tonne once again, along with strike action at BHP’s Escondida and Spence copper mines in Chile.

Financial Times natural resources editor Neil Hume tweeted yesterday: “No wonder the copper price moved this afternoon. This market is one supply disruption away from a big price spike.”

The first phase of Ivanhoe’s Kamoa-Kakula project is set to produce between 80-95,000 tonnes of copper concentrate this year and will eventually become the world’s second largest copper mine in the world, behind only Escondida.

The DRC is the fourth largest copper producing nation in the world, producing 1.6 million tonnes in 2020, and the world’s leading cobalt supplier with 85,855 tonnes produced last year.